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Jan 25, 2013

Eden Hazard charged in ball boy scuffle

Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez declined to comment on the Eden Hazard ballboy incident, but confirmed that John Terry is in contention for selection against Brentford.

England's Football Association on Friday charged Chelsea winger Eden Hazard with violent conduct for kicking a ball boy during a League Cup semifinal match against Swansea.

The FA said Friday the normal three-match ban that is a mandatory sanction for violent conduct "was clearly insufficient."

Hazard has until Jan. 29 to respond to the charge, the FA said on its website, and after that will face a harsher penalty.

"The FA will remind all clubs of their responsibilities in ensuring ball boys and other personnel around the pitch act in an appropriate manner at all times and will liaise with competitions accordingly," the FA said on its website.

Hazard was sent off for kicking a ball boy in the 79th minute of Wednesday's semifinal. The Belgian winger attempted to retrieve the ball after it rolled out of play.

The 17-year-old ball boy refused to return the ball promptly and dropped down on top of it. Hazard aimed a kick underneath the teenager to release the ball.

Hazard and ball boy Charlie Morgan apologized to each other after the match and were spoken to by police. Morgan's family doesn't intend to press charges.

The European champions must now face further accusations that its millionaire players are out of control, soon after the racism scandals involving John Terry, Ashley Cole and John Obi Mikel that blighted 2012.

"It is an extraordinary incident," former referee Dermot Gallagher said. "There's no defense for that. Someone said it was borne out of frustration but you have to accept it. It was an extreme, but you can't have that at a football match."

The incident sparked a flurry of activity on social networking sites and induced imaginative headlines in British newspapers, such as "Ed Case," "Occupational Hazard" and "Boots of Hazard." BBC radio has already been referring to it as "Ballboygate."

Many ex-professionals have reacted with sympathy for Hazard, who was attempting to get the ball back into play as quickly as possible with Chelsea needing two late goals to force extra time in the second leg. The match finished 0-0, with Swansea progressing to the final 2-0 on aggregate.

Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar wrote on Twitter: "I'm not saying it's the correct thing 2 do but when in the heat of the moment u just want the ball."

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